Robotic knee replacements improve outcomes, cost more: Study


While total knee replacements performed with the help of surgical robots have better patient outcomes, they cost an average of $2,400 more than conventional knee replacements, according to new research published in the Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery. 

The study, conducted by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers, showed that patients who underwent robotic surgeries had hospital stays that were nearly a half day shorter and were significantly less likely to have complications such as infections, excessive blood loss, fractures and dislocations, or mechanical complications of their prosthetic, according to a May 7 news release from Dallas-based UT Southwestern.

Researchers gathered data from the National Inpatient Sample, a publicly available database that contains information from about 7 million hospital stays each year from across the country, and used diagnostic codes to identify 541,122 patients who received conventional total knee arthroplasties and 17,249 who received robotic TKAs between 2016 and 2019. 

They collected information related to these procedures, including the length of hospital stays, complications, costs and patients' demographic information.

While robotic surgery was, on average, $2,400 more expensive than traditional options, the cost of robotic surgery was as much as $15,000 more in some comparisons.

Most of these findings held true when the researchers made comparisons based on factors such as age, sex, race, tobacco use, diabetes and obesity.

The higher cost of robotic procedures likely comes from the increased expense of disposable equipment necessary to perform the procedure and the acquisition of robotic equipment, which typically costs millions, according to the release. 

Robotic knee replacements may be a more cost-effective option in high-volume hospitals, where savings from reduced complications can help offset the higher costs, researchers said. 

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